By Gilda Morales
The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Monday and discussed a varied agenda from COVID-19 to the 2020 Census. Councilwoman Carloss gave the Council a sobering report on the dismal Census response from Culberson County in 2010, which cost the County upwards of $11.5 million dollars because only 67.5% of the county was counted. Carloss stated that the County is on track to another low count that could mean millions of lost dollars which could go toward education, healthcare, infrastructure, and grants that would benefit this area. Every person counted is worth about $1578 in funding for this county. To make matters more difficult, the current orders in place addressing sheltering in place and social distancing, make traditional door-to-door counting impossible.
In an effort to motivate more people to be counted, Council unanimously voted to approve a one-time $25 utility write-off from customers’ bill if they show proof of Census completion. Councilmen that had completed the Census online noted that the whole process took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
On another item, City Administrator Fran Malafronte advised Council on a previously asked question concerning the closure of the local golf course. Malafronte reported that per legal counsel at TML, golf course workers are not considered “essential,” and as such, the workers cannot work at courses, effectively keeping the course closed.
Mayor Pam Young, speaking at the request of city office employees, requested that Council consider allowing office staff from home. After considerable discussion, Council compromised by shortening the workday for all city workers whose hours will be from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All other city workers will keep their current work hours at 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Council also addressed the lack of personal protection equipment for city workers and vowed to search for a supplier to provide employees with masks, gloves and sanitizer.